Both go to articles written by Sahil Kapur, whose name I first noticed in connection with the Scalia piece yesterday. I didn't blog about that because the legal stupidity of it annoyed me but also bored me too much to explain. I happened to see Kapur's name again this morning as I clicked on a link at Drudge that read "LIMBAUGH RIPS MEDIA": 'PIG IGNORANT'..." Limbaugh excoriates the media for not understanding that self-employed persons — such as Matt Drudge — have to pay quarterly installments on their taxes, so Drudge was not lying when he said he was already paying the penalty for declining to buy health insurance.
The individual mandate went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, and most people paying their taxes right now are paying taxes for 2013. 'Dude, there's no penalty until next yr,' Sahil Kapur of the left-wing Talking Points Memo tweeted. Kapur's colleague at TPM Dylan Scott wrote a full story with a headline alleging Drudge was 'probably lying.' 'Americans don't pay a penalty for not having health insurance until they file their 2014 taxes -- in 2015,' Scott wrote.Now I see Kapur's name on that piece about the bumper sticker, which, at the inside page, is headlined "Obama Co-Opts Tea Party Slogan For Obamacare Bumper Sticker." We talked about that bumper sticker last night. My favorite comment on my post is from Carl Pham, who says:
Love it. An effeminate l'il toothless snake, slim 'n' trim from his regular yoga class, sipping chai latte and curling up with his iPad to do a little Facebooking on the back of a lime-green Prius. I'm guessing the same design team that came up with Pajama Boy?I also like Dr. Weevil:
Unlike the Gadsden flag snake, this one doesn't seem to be a rattlesnake. The point of the original flag is that the snake-warrior doesn't strike first, doesn't go in search of people to bite, but if you step on him, he will bite back and hurt you worse than you hurt him. The Obamacare snake just bites people.Yeah, and also, if you tread on a stethoscope, it doesn't attack you. You can quite successfully survive stomping all over a stethoscope. And why would they want to portray that stethoscope as being like a rattlesnake? The message seems to be that Obamacare is threatening you and can kill you.
Anyway, I have no problem with TPM noting that Obama has appropriated the old Gadsden flag, which has of late been strongly associated with the Tea Party. And it's not Kapur who called Obama a troll. I just found all that interesting and was surprised to see Kapur's name again.
It's that Scalia piece that is so irritating. Kapur is not responsible for the photo of Scalia coming out of the darkness with his hands in the "Boo!" position under the word "Haunts." But he is responsible for writing such a nitwit explanation of a legal problem. Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the case that most clearly explains what the Free Exercise Clause means — which is that there's no constitutional right to exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws. The case that's currently before the Supreme Court (Hobby Lobby) is based on the statute — the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — that Congress passed after the Court decided that Free Exercise case, so now there is a statutory right to exemptions. There's nothing haunting about this. There's the Constitution, which needed interpretation, and there are statutes, which can extend more rights than the Constitution provides. These are different texts and they require independent interpretation.
It's dumb (or disingenuous) to portray Scalia as somehow troubled by needing to apply a statute that requires courts to protect religion more than the Constitution requires. In fact, if anything, I could see him being especially deferential to Congress's choice to trump a judicial opinion with a clearly stated statutory entitlement. The problem to be argued before the Court today is about 2 statutes and the way they interact. It's Congress, not Scalia, that is "haunted" by the past. Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a clear text, and it had the power to put text in the Affordable Care Act that would exclude the application of the RFRA. It didn't!
I've explained this before, by the way, back in November when the Supreme Court granted cert. in the Hobby Lobby case:
This is about statutes and the politicos who produce them, not the judges who stand back and let them trip all over themselves pandering to everyone. If the Congress that passed the Affordable Care Act had wanted to exempt it from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it could have done so explicitly. It did not. Why should the Court cut back Congress's absurdly broad RFRA to help it out with what it failed to bother to do with the ACA?